Caloric Restriction Can Slow Rate Of Aging In Health Humans, New Study Shows

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A team of researchers led by the Butler Columbia Aging Center at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health has conducted a randomized controlled trial that is the first of its kind, showing that caloric restriction can decelerate the ageing process in healthy adults.

The study measured the ageing pace through DNA methylation

Using the DunedinPACE algorithm, researchers measured the pace of ageing by examining participants’ blood DNA methylation. The CALERIE intervention resulted in a 2-3% reduction in the pace of ageing, which is equivalent to a 10-15% decrease in mortality risk based on previous studies. This effect is similar to that of a smoking cessation intervention.

Daniel Belsky, a scientist at Columbia’s Butler Aging Center, states that research has shown that reducing caloric intake can slow down ageing processes and prolong the healthy lifespan in worms, flies, and mice. Therefore, the objective of their study was to investigate if caloric restriction could also decelerate biological ageing in humans.

The CALERIE (‘Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) Phase-2 randomized controlled study was the first to examine the effects of long-term caloric restriction on non-obese, healthy individuals. The study enrolled 220 male and female participants from three locations across the United States, randomly assigning them to either a 25% calorie-restricted or normal diet for two years.

Monitoring age-related diseases is not practical in humans.

The researchers analyzed blood samples from participants at the pre-intervention baseline and followed up after 12 and 24 months. Blesky explained that humans live longer, so it might not be practical to monitor them until practical results in age-related diseases are seen. In contrast, researchers rely on biomarkers developed to measure the progress and pace of biological ageing over the study period. Researchers analyzed DNA methylation marks extracted from white blood cells.

Calen Ryan, Ph.D., Research Scientist at Columbia’s Butler Aging Center and co-author of the study, observed that while the intervention had a significant impact on the DunedinPace epigenetic clock, no such effects were observed on any other epigenetic clocks.

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